India has rich history which starts from 2500BCE. With the old books and Hindu text it is clear that present marriages system is one of the systems which were formed in Vedic Era (1500BCE). Marriage as described in texts is a sacred coupling of a man and women. In present India we know Indian marriages which are based on Local rituals and customs. Different states of India have different sets of marriage customs and traditions.
In 1500 BCE when Indians were learning to form a society, a need of a Marriage system was indentified. At that time Indian subcontinent was not bound with the cultural threads. In fact the culture and customs were taking its shape. Marrying more than one men and women was a common practice. At the same time when Indian society was divided in four major castes Brahmin Khastriya, Vaisya, Soodra; Indian marriage system came in to existence. Vedas clearly recommended the marriage in same caste. Further it recommended the supremacy of Brahmin over other. Hence a society was formed where inter caste marriage was strictly prohibited, though there was provision to marry more than one girl of same caste.
After 3500 years, till Today Indian society has same structure as was mentioned In the Vedas. Though many years of foreign rule changed it in to the present form but its basic structure is same. Hindu puranic and Vedic text describes form of marriages:
- Brahma marriage
- Daiva marriage
- Arsa or Rishi marriage
- Prajapati marriage
- Asur marriage
- gandhrav marriage
- rakshasa marriage
- pischacha marriage
Bramha Marriages are the marriage of one’s daughter with a Man of exquisite nature and conduct, by giving hers jewels and garments. All the ritual performed are described in Vedic text. This is considered as best marriage form.
Daiva vivah is marriage of one’s daughter to a priest while he is duly conducting a religious ceremony. In this marriage father of daughter handovers her daughter with jewels and ornaments to a priest in exchange of a successful conduction of religious ceremony.
Arsha Marriage is marriage when a fathers happily handovers her daughter to a bridegroom in exchange of A pair of Cow and bull. This is also known as rishi vivah.
Prajapati marriage is a marriages in which father gives away her daughter to a deserving Bridegroom with blessing for future life.
Gandhrava Vivah is a mutually agreed union of man and women for fulfilling sexual desire. It’s a self selection of Groom/bride to marry. Famous Sanskrit Play “Abhigyan sakuntalam” by kalidasa cites this form of marriages between Dusyant and sakuntala.
Asur vivaah is a marriage of when bridegroom offers money to bride and hers kins to marry her. This is a marriage in exchange of money.
Raakshasa vivah is a marriage when Bridegroom forcefully marries a maiden by abducting her after slaying her family.
Pischacha vivah is marriage when a man makes a physical union with an intoxicated sleeping maiden or with a mentally challenge women.
Above mentioned are the 8 types of marriages described in Vedic texts. Just opposite to what many thinks about Vedic culture, Child marriage was not allowed at that time. Widow marriage was a common practice. In reference to cite widow marriage description in old Hindu texts a beautiful story from Ramayana can be taken for example. When lord Rama (Hindu deity) killed Bali, his Wife remarried to Bali’s younger brother Sugriva. This clearly cites that widow marriage were in practice at that time.
Marrying many men was also not a taboo according to mythological texts. In Mahabharata, a Sanskrit text, draupadi, leading lady in text, was married to five sons of Kunti. It’s clearly States that polygamy was allowed at that time.
Another story is about Kunti, mother of famous five pandvas, who became pregnant before her marriage. It also indicates that the Gandhrava vivah, described above, were in practice. There are many other examples which clearly portrays that early society was very generous and lenient towards marriages and sexual unions.
In medieval India, when India was facing one after another attacks, the society shrunken its broad view of marriage and restricted itself. Most of the wrong practices get started in this period only. Child marriage, girl trafficking, sati practices and prohibition of widow marriage came in to existence in this period. Prada system (women were bound to hide here faces from of everyone except her own parents and husband) also came in to existence in this period only. At this time Indian women were allowed to marry only once. Whenever her husband dies, they were forced to get burned with his Dead body. A man were allowed to marry more than one woman but vice versa was not allowed in medieval India. Low caste persons and women had seen worst time in medieval India. They were not more than an article. Selling and purchasing of Sudra (low caste man and women) was a common practice in post Vedic time.
Indian marriages in present days are having their own set to rituals and customs based on the territory they are living in. The Basic structure is same in almost all Hindu marriages. Muslim Nikah are also having their different styles. Types described in Vedas are not in practice. Only Brahma vivah, in its current structure having flavor of state tradition, are in practice.
Marriages in different regions of India have adopted local customs and traditions in it. They have nothing to do with the Veda except few popular verses of Sanskrit. Thousands of years have passed and India is modern country with its strong cultural base. Marriages in India are a worth attending. Beautiful, rhythmic folk songs double the enjoyment. Vedas have left behind and priests are officiating marriage on internet. Matrimonial sites are not only become an easier option to search a Compatible match but also they have emerged as any system of getting married. Soon you will find another Type of marriage elaborated in text – Internet marriage.